Friday, November 27, 2009

CAGED System part I: Introduction (level:beginner - intermediate)

    So you've heard of the CAGED system and maybe even glanced at it once or twice, but didn't know what to make of it.  Well, it is actually quite a simple system, as you will see, to learn to visualize patterns on the fretboard of the guitar.  Having grasped the concept behind it and practiced with it a bit, one should expect to know where all the major and minor* scales are across the entire neck, or at least be able to figure it out. The CAGED concept simply provides a systematic method for doing so based on the guitar's tuning.  In this next series of posts, I will be explaining the CAGED system.

*I mean natural minor, as in being relative to a major scale, i.e. A minor (A B C D E F G) shares the same notes as C Major (C D E F G A B), therefore, if you know where the notes of the A minor scale lie on the neck, you know where the notes of the C Major scale lie as well.
    I should mention that I am writing this lesson with the intermediate guitarist in mind, so if you are unsure about something (i.e. the fingering for a particular chord) feel free to leave your question in the comments section for this post or any future posts for this lesson and I will post a reply at my earliest convenience.  Before you go on, it is important to understand some basic concepts.  Think of it as a prerequisite to the CAGED method, if you will.

     The first thing you need to know are 5 basic chord forms in open position:

   C Major

A Major

   G Major

E Major

   D Major

    These 5 basic chord forms are the basic shapes that the CAGED system is based off of.  (Can you guess why it is called CAGED?)

    The second thing you need to be familiar with before diving in is the idea of moveable chord forms.  This requires the use of a 1st finger (index finger) barre.  That means that multiple notes on the same fret (on different strings) are played with the same finger, i. e. your index finger.

Example of a barre:

    The line across the strings in the example above indicates that you are to "barre" all six strings at the first fret by laying your 1st finger across them.

    The term "moveable chord form" means just what it says: a chord form that is moveable.  To make one of the open position chords from above moveable, all you have to do is place a barre where the open strings would be.  For example, lets look at the A form.

    This is the A Major chord from above.  We can move this shape up a fret by incorporating a bar:

    We now have a chord shape that can be moved anywhere on the fretboard.  This can be done with any open position chord using the same method as just described.  Also keep in mind that almost every time you make a moveable chord form from an open position chord you will have to change the fingering (if you didn't figure this out already).

   This final bit of knowledge isn't absolutely necessary before moving on but I recommend that you learn it now (the chromatic scale) if you don't already know it because you will have to learn it later in order to understand the benefits of the CAGED system.

Just a basic understanding of the chromatic scale is necessary, just the order of the notes, so here it is with sharps:

D-D#-E-F-F#-G-G#-A-A#-B-C-C#-D-D#-E etc...

and with flats:

D-Eb-E-F-Gb-G-Ab-A-Bb-B-C-Db-D-Eb-E-F etc...

This concludes my introduction to the CAGED system.  Click here to go to part II of this lesson.


1 comment:

Feel free to ask any questions you may have if you don't understand something, or challenge my ideas if you don't agree with something. I want to hear from you whether or not you liked it. I would love to debate topics and ideas with you, or just let me know what's up. Either way, I want to hear from you!